DFL regains control of Legislature

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DFLers regained decisive majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate in an election that Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL leaders said will pave the way for “progress” in Minnesota.

“The message coming out of this election is that people are interested in progress — in moving the state forward,” House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) said at a press conference.

Thissen and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) promised an end to the kind of partisan gridlock that led to the 2011 state government shutdown.

“Last night, Minnesota took a large step forward, and I think the message from Minnesotans was pretty clear,” Bakk said. “They want this rigidity and this unwillingness to compromise to be put on the shelf.”

For the first time since 1990, DFLers will control the House, the Senate and the governor’s office at the same time. They are projected to hold a 73-61 majority in the House and a 39-28 majority in the Senate. Recounts are expected in one House and one Senate race (Districts 8B and 20, respectively).

Just two years ago, Republicans took control of the House and Senate in their own historic victory. At the time, their 72-62 House and 37-30 Senate majorities marked the first time in 40 years that Republicans controlled both chambers.

In spite of yesterday’s losses, Republican leaders said they would remain focused on their agenda of smaller government, lower taxes and business-friendly policies.

“It wasn’t quite the election we’d hoped for last night,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove). He announced he would not seek a leadership position within the new minority House Republican caucus.

“We had a message of balancing the budget without a tax increase, trying to restore a little bit of sanity to where our budget was going, and also reining in the size and scope of government,” Zellers said. “The voters chose a little bit different path for us last night.”

Thissen and Bakk said they would seek the top leadership positions in their respective caucuses. Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) indicated she would be among the candidates for House majority leader. The House and Senate DFL caucuses will meet tomorrow to select their leaders.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) said he is still weighing his options to seek a leadership position. House Republicans will caucus Saturday.

Overall, nearly one-third of incoming state representatives will be either new to the House (34 members total) or returning to serve nonconsecutive terms (eight members). Nine incumbents lost re-election bids in the House — all of them Republicans. In two of those contests — Districts 5A and 5B — newly redrawn districts had pitted DFL and Republican incumbents against each other.

For information on all of the new members, see our 2012 Election Directory.